Hello, fellow triathletes,
I am racing in two "destination" triathlons this year - one in New Orleans and another in Chicago. I have never traveled with my bike, and I am aware that I can either ship my bike somewhere through Bonzai, or check it on the plane with me.
Which is the best option? What advice can you guys offer me? Should I buy or rent a case, or should I have Bonzai (or another local bike shop) pack it up for me and ship?
Once I am "on the ground" ...should I take my bike to a local bike shop and have them check it out for me? Any recommendations on bike shops in NOLA or the Windy City?
You have to cross the 20+ mile bridge to gt to this bike shop, but this is the shop that I had all my stuff taken care of while I lived there.
1848 North Causeway Boulevard
Mandeville, LA 70471
Steve Sperier is the owner. He is a good guy, you can even call him up at the store and make an appointment to get it done.
Thanks! This is actually great for me, as I will be staying on the Northshore. I appreciate it!!
I emailed Steve and told him that you might call. He will take care of you and you won't have to worry if it's a good job or not.
Thank you so much! I will definitely give him a call tomorrow to make arrangements.
looks like you have it figured it out.
but here is my experience, it depends on what you want to do, not what we think it the best idea.
each is expensive in its own right.
if you pack it yourself/get a shop to do it and put it in bike box that ups can ship, usually and older bicycle box from a bike shop they are throwing out it will probably cost you a few dollars to ship it with ups, you will have to see what they charge but figure a couple hundered conservatively round trip, though its probably less.
pros: you don't have to travel with it, its there when you get there
cons: you dont' get to travel with it, so if you are concerned about not having your stuff near you this is an issue.
if you bring it in a box on the plane, depending on the airline you will pay a surcharge right there for the bike box no questions asked each way probably around 100-125$ each way, and then when you get there you need a car/suv/wagon that can fit the box in the trunk or back seat.
pros: you have the bike with you the entire time practically so if you are worried its there with you most likely 100% of the time
cons: you need that car or get a taxi/van that can take you where you need to go, and you need to get good at wheeling it around after you, its a big piece of "luggage" so keep that in mind if you know you can't handle its weight and size.
in both cases, the major thing is "do you know how to pack and unpack and reassemble dissassemble your bike?"
if the answer is no then in both instances you will have to bring someone that does or pay a bike shop to do it for you.
if you are poor like me and can't afford to pay a bike shop to do all this, then its easy to learn how to do it and it only takes 15 minutes once you get the hang of it, and it only takes knowing how to use two major tools (pedal wrench, 3 sided allen wrench, well or 3 allen wrenches the common sizes on the bicycle)
what you decide to do is up to you. goodluck and have a great season.
Justin (vatriathlete) makes some good points.
I will tell you that as someone who is not all that versed with a screw driver that the process of taking a bike part isn't that difficult. Depending on the bike box that you get, it is quite a painless process. For my bike box, I just take off the seat post, wheels, pedals, and handlebars. No cables are disassembled. It fits in any rental car besides a yugo.
My bike box costs a little more than $150. I believed that a bike box rentals goes for between $35-70 per week. I have flown enough with it for it to pay for itself. Plus, If I want to make a vacation of it and hang around a city for longer than a week, I do not have to worry about paying an extra week for the bike box rental.
Southwest charges $50 each way for the bike box. International is a bit more.
Thanks - any recommendations on cases?
The prices and style varies greatly. Below is mine. It is a bit more expensive now than when I got it. I think that I got it on sale for $170. I would go the craigslist route first. I have seen some really nice ones on craigslist for $100. Mine has its pluses an minuses but I like it because it is a big box and requires minimum dissabmbly of the bike. Some bike boxes, because of their configurations, require quite an extensive disablement of the bike. You almost have to be a bike mechanic to use it. I can also stuff in a helmet, bike shoes, bike pump, and a bunch of other things in it along with the bike.
i have seen basically only 2 or 3 major players when it comes to bike boxes.
trico ironcase, many people like this but the catch is that its like a clamshell you put your bike in and then you clamp it shut its very good and durable, but some people dont' like the whole sandwich idea of it.
tri all 3 sports, these guys are more espensive and have multiple size cases the closest to the trico ironcase for comparison is this one the compact case, its basically identical in size, the difference is the way it packs instead of a clamshell its more of the half shell you can see in teh pic your bike is strapped to the bottom using a fork mount and some (i have this case and have a bit of biased opinion and like this case the best) like this method of packing better.
then you have the performance bike version that tuan mentioned and others like it.
and the cheapest version is people sometimes just use a cardboard bike box from a bicycle shop that they are throwing away, though the durability of this after multiple uses is questionable,the price is usually "free" to get the box.
these are all hard cases, you can get soft cases that are a lot like really big padded duffle bags in a way, some people like these and travel fine with them. these are usually much cheaper than any hard case, easier to pack away when not in use but its a soft case so some people trust the hard casese more. me personally i have never used a soft case so can't comment on them and their durability.
what i will say is that i have a triall3 sports case that is 10 years old and still working fine, the catch with all hard cases if you buy one is that they are expensive, its not worth it to buy unless you know you will use it for some time and at least 2-3 times a year for a few years, otherwise renting is cheaper and easier. also the case i have has been used extensively by me and others, what happens is the case basicaly gets really really beat up and sometimes slightly broken during the process of using it from shipping/airlines, etc, that is a known thing, but never has my bike or the contents inside ever been damaged, the bike box has been and is easily repaired using plastic glue from home depot and its good as new for the next use.
what i will say is that amost all these case require you to know how to take off the pedals and wheels and the seat and usually teh handlebars but all of this is really simple to do.
There is one more option. I ran across these at some races.
They are cheaper and last pretty long, the black version, from what I am told. The downfall is that it's not a true hard case and if they throw something heavy on it, it will be putting pressure on your bike. But if you mail it, then it's good to go.
+1 for Spokesmans. When I moved from Louisiana to D.C., Steve set up the bike rack I purchased for my car—without me even asking. Fantastic!
Also - great post on traveling options if you want to fly with your bike: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2011/02/how-i-travel-with-my-bike.html
By the way, Leslie, which New Orleans race are you doing—the 70.3 in March or the Oly in May? I will be staying on the Northshore as well for the May 15th race and will have a car—happy to provide a ride across the Causeway for a fellow DC Tri-er!
Hi all -
Thanks so much for the advice! I spoke with Steve today, and he has offered to help me out once I get on the ground. I also really appreciate all of the options on cases.
Maggie, I am actually signed up for Irongirl New Orleans in May 22nd. A wee sprint distance. Would love to hear your race report, though... let me know how the swim in Pontchartrain goes!